Jingyan hadn't expected Fuyan to speak like that. It lit a fuse in her, making her grit her teeth in frustration as she pointed a trembling finger at Fuyan's departing back. However, she didn't dare to scold Fuyan either. There were quite a few other maidservants outside, after all.
In the end, Jingyan could only scold Fuyan in her mind for being a fake. Fuyan was clearly dead envious on the inside, but on the surface, she still acted like she could care less. What a fraud!
What could they gain from staying here in the inner court of the Jing'an Estate? Their young master was far off at the borders, and the main branch of this family wasn't close to theirs, either. The young master of the second branch only came back to the estate once or twice a month, so they didn't even have the chance to get close to him. Later on, when they came of suitable age, if Third Young Madam was happy with their service, she would bestow them to a steward of the estate. If she wasn't happy, then she might even marry them off to some menial manservant, to toil away for the rest of their days in poverty.
Mingyan was so lucky to have met such a good chance. Even if she couldn't get into Heir Zheng's bed, she might be able to get married to a minor official instead and become an official's legitimate wife.
As for her, she could only stay by Third Young Madam's side, toiling away her days in this Songtao Court. What kind of future could she have?
Mingyan's sudden departure had caused all sorts of hidden thoughts to surface in Jingyan's mind.
Meanwhile, as Fuyan continued walking towards the parlour, she kept up her calm exterior despite no longer being in front of Jingyan. But in reality, how could she not be boiling with jealousy of Mingyan?!
However, there were other thoughts in her mind that kept her more patient than Jingyan.
When she thought of He Changdi's outstanding figure and his handsome looks, as well as that strangely attractive cold demeanour and sombre air of his, Fuyan was filled with excitement. She was going to wait, no matter how many years it took. She was going to wait until the day that Third Young Master returned. With that letter in her hands, she was certain that she would be able to get Third Young Master's favour.
Meanwhile, Chu Lian was lying in her soft bed, covered in a fragrant, light blanket. She was deep in a comforting slumber, without any mind to care about what the maidservants in her courtyard were thinking about.
In the following days, Chu Lian was kept busy with the opening of Guilin Restaurant. Time flew by in the blink of an eye, and before they knew it, there was only one day left before the first of September, the day of Guilin Restaurant's reopening.
Mingyan had already been left in the Zheng Estate to take care of Old Duke Zheng's meals for about six days.
After eating the delicious food that Mingyan had personally cooked, Old Duke Zheng's spirit was back. In just a few days, he had already recovered to his usual state of health. By the fourth day, he was already able to get out of bed and move around. When it came to the sixth day, he could get up in the morning to practise the five-animal exercises of qigong.
On this day, Heir Zheng had come over to his grandfather's courtyard early in the morning. Old Duke Zheng had just changed into a short-sleeved tunic and was about to do some morning exercise when he saw that his grandson had come to visit him. He cheerfully extended an invitation to him and said, "Tiancheng, come and practise some techniques with me."
Upon receiving his grandfather's invitation, Heir Zheng grinned widely, showing off his teeth. He immediately took off his outer robe and tossed it to his manservant. Then, he strode over to his grandfather's side and started practising some morning exercises with Old Duke Zheng.
"You brat, why have you come over to grandfather's place so early in the morning? Are you here to steal a free meal?" Old Duke Zheng harrumphed.
Heir Zheng was a talkative one. "Grandfather understands Grandson the most! But Grandson isn't here just to fulfill some simple appetite today."
"Oh? What's the matter? Tell me."
Old Duke Zheng was full of energy. His punches were brimming with power. There was no trace of the man who had been on his deathbed just six days ago after almost starving to death.
The power of gourmet food was really quite miraculous.
"House Jing'an's Third Young Madam, otherwise known as Honoured Lady Jinyi, is about to open up a restaurant tomorrow. If Grandfather would like to go and take a look, Grandson happens to have two invites here."
"Honoured Lady Jinyi is that girl who came to our estate with Matriarch He the other day?"
"Indeed she is. That favoured maidservant you have here was left behind by Honoured Lady Jinyi."
"That does sound interesting. Leave one invite for Grandfather then!"
Heir Zheng was so happy that even his eyebrows were beaming.
After grandfather and grandson finished an hour of exercise together and took a shower, a senior servant entered the room to inform them that breakfast was ready.
Old Duke Zheng brought his grandson to the parlour, where the table had been laid out with a variety of dishes. There were steamed rice cakes, flower rolls, steamed dumplings, fried breadsticks, and also some steaming hot pork porridge.
They could the smell the tempting aroma of the food even from the entrance of the parlour. The two men were already starving, so they quickly walked right in and sat at the table.
As Old Duke Zheng looked over the table laden with breakfast foods he had never seen before, a passionate fire seemed to be burning in his eyes. He shot a look at Mingyan, who was waiting by his side. "Mingyan, quick, tell me what all these are."
After Old Duke Zheng spoke up, Heir Zheng turned to look at Mingyan, who was standing by the table. When Mingyan caught sight of Heir Zheng's gaze from the corner of her eyes, a faint blush covered her cheeks. However, she still managed to say, "Replying to Old Duke Zheng and Heir Zheng, the plate over on that end contains a dish called 'Double Golden Spears'. It's crispy on the outside and soft on the inside..."
Mingyan's gentle voice resounded within the parlour, but as Heir Zheng continued listening, he sensed something wrong.
Although this girl was introducing the dishes properly, there wasn't any mention of Honoured Lady Jinyi in her descriptions. By excluding her, Mingyan was trying to imply that she had been the one to invent all these dishes. How was that possible!
Heir Zheng's brows furrowed together as he took another look at Mingyan. This time, Mingyan also turned to meet his gaze. Her eyes were flush with desire, like a soft autumn wind.
Heir Zheng stiffened and quickly turned his gaze away.
Of course, all these little interactions had fallen into Old Duke Zheng's sharp eyes.